december 2015’s extra-early bloomers

dec 2015 niger and orientalisTHE FIRST DOSE of winter 2015-16 arrived overnight on December 28. It layered an inch of sleety snow onto plants that seemed to think it was more like March (or maybe even May, since Christmas Eve had reached 70 degrees F). We are all confused, but trying to be brave.

jelena hamamelisAppearances were already being made by three species of hellebores, at least a month ahead of my prior earliest-ever showings for those perennials. Some hybrid witch-hazels, especially orange-flowered ‘Jelena’ (above), are already in full bloom, too.

dec2515 foetidusFor the record, then, I’m just noting it all—Helleborus foetidus (above), Helleborus niger (my first-ever with the so-called “Christmas rose” in bloom at Christmas; top left), and even a few of the orientalis hybrids (top right)—and trying not to panic, or make any predictions about what it means for spring. All bets are off, I figure.

What freakish happenings are you seeing in your garden?

  1. Diana says:

    I’m in Maryland and the primroses have been blooming for a couple of weeks, my cammlias that normally bloom in February have bloomed, the Edgeworthia blossoms are ready to open, some tulips and daffodils are up a couple of inches and today I found several hosta plants emerging.

    1. margaret says:

      Many people are telling me about emerging hostas, Diana, in many zones. So crazy. Thanks for saying hello and sharing your untimely garden events.

  2. Sharon says:

    I picked Brussels sprouts Christmas Eve and there were large slugs feasting on them! (NW Ct) also colchicum foliage is up 3 “…..

  3. Loretta says:

    Here in Northern NJ, I have a snowdrop, winter jasmine, spirea Ogon, allysum, in bloom. Helleborus niger, the oriental hybrids, Helleborus foetidus and flowering quince are in colorful bud. The witch hazels show peeks of color but they are holding back and so are the forsythia. The hellebore buds look very sad now that it is freezing cold. Also, I see some green buds on the hydrangea which isn’t good.

  4. Sharon says:

    re deer eating lavender, maybe none of their preferred browse is available or the deer population this year is high.

    I am relieved no sign of spring bloom yet (outer borough of NYC) though the
    multi-flora roses have partially unfurled leaves, my first sign. Spring bloom is
    always late for me because I am shaded by a hill.

    Still had rudbeckia blooming and hydrangea had last season’s leaves before the
    chill of the last few days.

  5. Sarah says:

    We haven’t had such cold temps (30’s-40’s) in the East Bay just east of San Francisco in a long time and are finally getting some much needed rain. I am hoping the daffodils and tulips will appreciate the chill!

    1. margaret says:

      I am glad to hear of CA rains, Sarah (but of course know they sometimes cause their own chaos). Thanks for saying hello, and I wish your bulbs well, too.

  6. Barbara Woods de Carvalho says:

    Margaret, I’ve read of viburnum bodnantense blooming in English winters and am wondering if at long last we can have our own English climate (just kidding). Sadly, V. bodnantense bloomed and then got hit by an Arctic blast. Ditto cherry trees I saw on the highway into Sussex boro. Our ornamental willow is showing pink branches, and a hopeful redwing blackbird made his Spring appearance with a skyful of starlings. Oh my!

    1. margaret says:

      Oh my is right, Barbara. Still no frost in the ground at all here, and now big winds and pouring rain in the mid-40s, more March or April-ish. I am happy for any precipitation, however, but would prefer snow!

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